Monday, July 20, 2009

The London Conference

"Dealing as it does with interreligious dialogue, especially that between Christianity and Islam, our conference addresses one of the most salient symptoms of the larger issue which I try to address in this paper, namely, future of Western Civilization, which is at this moment in a very serious crisis, a crisis of its own making. Now I divide my time between carping on the venality, vulgarity, and moral odiousness of much of popular Western Culture – and working as hard as I can to retrieve and redeploy its neglected religious and moral sources. This is my main concern, and at the heart of this concern is the responsibility I feel for preserving and passing on the Christian faith which is the quintessential source of Western civilization. For all of the West’s historical mistakes and sins, as RenĂ© Girard has argued, the West is the culture that the Gospel Christianized and that, in turn, has Westernized the world, awakening a secular form of Christianity’s salutary ethical concern for victims specifically and for the dignity of the individual more generally. More to the point, my concern here is with the responsibility we who have enjoyed the moral, political, material and cultural advantages of this civilization have for passing it on more or less intact to our children’s children."
Thus begins the full text of the presentation I prepared for the annual Colloquium on Violence and Religion conference held at St. Mary's University College, London earlier this month.

Due to time constraints, I was only able to present excerpts of the presentation at the conference. Inasmuch as the theme was one that is almost inevitably disconcerting, we decided to put audio files of the entire presentation on the Cornerstone Forum website. We divided the presentation into three roughly 20-minute sections.

They can be found HERE.


Athos said...

You know, Jeremiah didn't have a great time down there in the cistern. The false and lying prophets, among whom Hananiah who busted up Jeremiah's yoke-bars (that prophetically signified the up-coming Babylonian captivity), really didn't like Jeremiah's reality checks, Gil.

But I guess you know that already. Cheers

Mike O'Malley said...

Your London talk was dead on!


Allow to me to quibble on the margin, Gil.

In time I winched whenever I heard Pres. Bush call Islam a religion of peace, but I also found myself recalling a conversation. Some years ago I spoke with a CEO, a confident master salesman, who named his young company “National”, as in say National Widgets, Inc. Queried why he described his company as “national” in light of the fact that it did not operate in all 50 states, this CEO justified the name explaining that his company already operated in 38 states and that he, the CEO, anticipated that it would soon operate in all 50 states because he would make it so. In this light it seems that it would do the world no good for the leader of the Free World to have identified “Islam” as the implacable terrorist enemy of the Free World. Such a response to 9/11 would certainly ratify the worst Occidentialist paranoia and likely condemn us all to a century long religious war of mutual annihilation. Pres. Bush’s hopeful fiction has a downside of which you are aware. However, it seems wise that Pres. Bush framed the conflict otherwise, focusing on the evident evil, seeking Muslim allies and leaving a way of escape for Muslims of good faith into a hopeful new Islam of freedom and democracy without Jihad. The job of challenging the link between Muslim religious heritage and violence would by necessity fall to others. Pope Benedict rose to this task, which Pres. Bush wisely left in capable papal hands. Yet sadly too oft the corrupt and the craven mocked the Pope, turned on the POTUS and won the day. And now we have a time of appeasement of and accommodation with evil.

Also thank you for relaying Dr. Jann’s meaningful remarks [Dr. J-A-N-N that is?] following 11:20 or so on the third audio file.